Mickey McManusInvested, or investing, in the cloud? Impending disaster, said Mickey McManus, president and CEO of Maya. One of several SXSW presenters focused on bio-engineering, he believes the future is interconnected, layered networks. He views the five or so major (closed) "clouds" as brittle eco-systems that are destined to fail — unless we move to integrate, interconnect and layer them together.

"The Web is a sunset. The cloud may suffer a cloudburst," he predicted.

Why is the Web a sunset? "There are 4+ billion cellphones and 10+ billion connected devices. Within five years, there will be trillions." (His book is titled "Trillions.") Who needs the Web when all our carry-along or wearable "personal assistants" will be interconnected and will automatically sense, push and pull from our surroundings? It will be more a network than a Web, and not a single Web or network.

TrillionsBut his talk was more than just hype for his book. His organization has a track record with major companies, including AARP, Forrester Research, GE Energy, Pepsi and Samsung.

McManus said our world now makes more transistors than grains of rice — and those transistors are cheaper than rice. He said we'll soon have a radio on a chip and that will turn technology on its head (again). In McManus' future, products will be social, not just utilitarian.

Back to bio-engineering. Plants have a sophisticated ecosystem, gaining nutrients and sustenance from interconnected layers of systems — air, sun and rain that foster growth and nutrients in the soil, plus networks of roots and fungi that can move that water and nutrients miles to the plants that need them most. Look beneath the soil and you'll find a complex web of growth and delivery methods. That's how he sees our future world.

We have bits, then bytes. What's next? "Digital DNA. Beautiful complexity."

We will evolve to standardized containers that are mutable, extensible and massively reproducible, he believes. He wants to learn how we can identify the billions of information containers, and how do we find the RIGHT ones.

Our future is about "fostering emergence. We don't know what's coming. We need co-creation. We can make anything. What's the right thing to make?"

"Want to tackle something hard? Find somebody really smart who's already solved it," he said. "There are more, smarter people outside your organization than within it." Sounds like a corollary to: Want to be a leader? Find a parade and get out in front of it.

Nuggets heard at SXSWi

  • Be a part of an existing conversation
  • Work the passion, not the product

Brian Steffens  
Director of Communications


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